|The Baltic Sea area is a vast area, covering 2,3 million square kilometres with a population of some 103 million. Most of the population is concentrated in the south and in the coastal areas. The land use of the area is unique, with 50 % afforested and 20 % being used as arable land. Approximately 30 % of the Baltic population live in the countryside|
The area includes 10 countries, of which 4 currently are members of the European Union, and 5 will join within a few years. The difference between the present EU members and the other countries is considerable in many ways and it emphasises the fact that the region is not yet a homogenous entity.
Agriculture in the Baltic Sea area
Although the importance of agriculture in the national economies of the Baltic Sea countries has been reduced during the last decades, agriculture is considered to remain a key sector, and sustainable and stable food and non-food production is still of considerable political interest.
As is seen from table x, the percentage of gross value added by agriculture varies from 2 % in Sweden to 10 % in Latvia.
|Source: Economic Rural Development – project description, 3rd revision april 9 2002. IIASA. |
|Also the number of employed in agriculture varies considerably between the Baltic Sea countries, from 27 % in Poland to 3,3 % in Sweden, therefore a decline in job opportunities in rural areas will hit harder in some countries than in others. However, in spite of these differences all the Baltic Sea countries have in common a stagnation in the rural areas with loss of jobs and social desertification.|
|Source:Economic Rural Development – project description, 3rd revision april 9 2002. IIASA. |
|Today farmers and the existing agro-businesses in the rural areas around the Baltic Sea are mainly producing bulk products to commodity markets, where price often is determined by political decisions and not at all related to the actual costs of production. The farmers’ influence on their own situation is therefore rather limited. This situation has prevailed for many years and is not leading to any dynamic development of the rural societies..|
There are however many differences in characteristics and trends between the present EU countries and the accession countries in the Baltic Sea area. These differences cover geographical and climatic conditions as well as social, environmental and economic aspects. For example the relationship between agricultural land and total area varies from 7 % to 62 %, and the relationship between agricultural population and the total population varies between 3 and 30 % in the individual countries.
Also farming structure and average farm size differ considerably from country to country
In the following a number of tables and graphs to illustrate the considerable differences in production patterns, yield etc are shown. The differences indicate the large potentials for production improvements and increases in some of the Baltic Sea countries. However, any substantial increase in production of primary products like cereals and rape-seed (the most common crops in the area), which already are produced in surplus in Europe, does not make sense, unless new markets can be found. Fortunately there are alternatives to the traditional crops, as mentioned on page xx in this document, and alternative applications can be found for cereals and rapeseed.
|Primary production, yields of the most common crops and milk in the Baltic Sea states.|
As is seen from figure x the ratio of permanent pasture to arable land varies considerably. In Latvia for example more than 40 % of agricultural land is meadows and pasture whereas in Finland less than 5 % is pasture. The huge pasture areas constitute a large potential for future production of e.g. biomass for bio-energy production.
|Figure x. Permanent pasture in % of total agricultural land|
In the present EU countries the crop yield pr ha is currently still higher than in the accession countries which is seen from figures x –x. However the yield pr ha is increasing in those countries. This indicates a large potential for production increase in the accession countries.
Cereals are the most widespread crop in the Baltic Sea countries as in Europe as a whole. Even in the northern part of Sweden and Finland are grown cereals.
In figure x is shown the average yield of cereals that varies from 6,5 tons/ha in Denmark to 1 tons/ha in Russia.
|Table x: Yield of cereals in kg/ha (1998, FAO)|
Rape-seed is the second most important crop in the Baltic Sea area. Especially Poland and Germany are important rape-seed producers. However the rapeseed production has been reduced during recent years especially in the EU countries due to a change in the CAP.
Germany a d Poland are by far the largest milk producers. The milk production has been relatively constant during recent years in the EU countries, mainly due to the milk quota system, while production has declined in the Baltic countries.
|Table x: Milk productivity – kg milk pr cow pr year (1997) Data source:FAO|
The productivity varies, as is seen from table x, considerably; from 2000 l/cow in Russia to more than 6000 l/cow in the Nordic countries. There is thus a considerable potential for expansion of milk production i some of the Baltic Sea countries. On the other hand, the EU milk quota system will effectively hinder any large scale expansion of the milk production.
Potatoes are an important crop in the Baltic States, Poland and Denmark. Poland is not only the largest producer in the region, but also number 2 in Europe and number 3 in the World. Again there are differences in crop yield pr ha. As is seen from table x. Potatoes are used as food or for industrial purposes. Potato starch is produced in all countries except Finland. Also the starch production is regulated by an EU quota system, so that there will be no room for expansion.